How to start house sitting

Learn the ins and outs of how house sitting works at home or overseas.

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House sitting has been around long before the term "gig-economy" came into circulation. In short, it's the act of looking after someone else's home and its possessions, such as pets and plants, for payment or board.

And now it's easier than ever to turn it into a lucrative side hustle by saving money on accommodation.

How can I start house sitting?

You can get your foot into the world of house sitting by signing up with a house sitting website/agency or by word of mouth.

Popular house sitting websites in Australia include the following:

  • TrustedHousesitters
  • Aussie House Sitters
  • Mindahome
  • Happy House Sitters .

These sites allow homeowners to search for house sitters and vice versa. Homeowners are sometimes allowed to access the service for free, but house sitters are charged a fee to use the platform.

It's important to note that more often than not, house sitters aren't paid. What they are provided with is free accommodation for the period they've agreed to house sit.

It's important to note that more often than not, house sitters aren't paid. What they are provided with is free accommodation for the period they've agreed to house sit. At times, food may be left for the house sitter as well. However, it's often common that house sitters must pay for the utilities during their stay.

Taking care of plants

In return, you are accepting a variety of responsibilities, such as the following:

  • Looking after pets
  • Watering the garden and indoor plants
  • Taking in the mail
  • Cleaning up after yourself and taking out the rubbish
  • Staying in contact with the owners

To sign up to each site, you'll be required to create a profile and to submit your contact details and personal references. These will be verified by the house sitting site before you are allowed to apply for house sitting opportunities.

Any references or document checks will be displayed on your profile for owners to see.

Tips to get the perfect house sitting job for you

  • Upload photos of yourself with your pets. This will instil confidence in your potential employer that you know how to take care of a furry friend. If you don't have pets, you might like to focus on house sits only. "If you've never owned a pet, don't apply," says cat sitter Madolline Gourley. "Even though a free place to stay seems hard to say no to, these pets are people's livelihood. I've never owned a dog, so I don't even think of applying for sits with dogs."
  • Start by house sitting for family and friends and then get them to write reviews for you on the house sitting sites
  • Hide any personal social accounts you wouldn't want a future employer to see
  • Understand what's involved with your sit. If it requires you to maintain a garden, make sure you can before accepting the job
  • Sign up for email notifications that way you can be first in, best dressed
  • If a sit-only lists the city, not the suburb or neighbourhood, ask the owner to clarify the location before accepting the job as it may be an inconvenient location.

Dog sitting on living room

House sitting etiquette

On top of your given responsibilities, such as taking care of the home and its pets and keeping everything safe and secure, there's general etiquette you're expected to follow. Especially if you would like to receive a good house sitting review.

Do:

  • Follow the owner's instructions or ask for the house rules
  • Keep the home clean and secure
  • Don't invite friends or family unless you've vetted it with the owner first
  • Replace what you eat or use unless the owner has told you to help yourself

Don't:

  • Neglect your duties – this can make or break your review
  • Do more than you've agreed – if you feel the house needs an update or rearrange, resist the urge
  • Invade the homeowners' privacy. If they've left room doors closed, they probably don't want you to enter

Short and long term house sits

House sitting jobs can be short week-long stints or long year-long stays. It depends on the homeowner's needs.

The length of the stay will be on the ad, so you can decide before applying if you're capable of committing.

House sitting fees

TrustedHousesittersAussie House SittersMindahomeHappy House Sitters
Membership fee$99 per year - house sit worldwide$84 per year$59 per year - house sit Australia-wide$65 per month
Short sits
Long sits

Our interview with a house-sitter and travel blogger Madolline Gourley

We chatted to Madolline Gourley, house and cat sitter, on how else you can save and earn money through house sitting. Jaspurr selfie

Free(ish) transport and groceries

On my last trip, an Austin couple gave me a $100 gift card for Whole Foods (American grocery store).

On my last trip, an Austin couple gave me a $100 gift card for Whole Foods (American grocery store).

I've also been given the use of a guy's public transport pass in Boston. This would have saved me about AUD$100 over the 2-week stay.

Most, if not all, of the people I've sat for have said I'm welcome to anything in the fridge and pantry, and don't have to replace it. And about half the people I've sat for have had vegetable gardens and encouraged me to eat from them. Some have even shouted me meals or cooked me dinner.

People have also picked me up from the airport and driven me back. This has saved me a lot of money given most airport rides are US$30+. So there's a lot of less obvious savings to be had in addition to the free accommodation.

Making money whilst house sitting

I am still technically employed when I travel... And, obviously, in countries like the USA, you'd need a special visa or sponsorship to work while house sitting. But if you run your own online business, which a lot of people do, then obviously, you can work as you go! Or if you're in a country that has relaxed foreign working conditions, then that would also be an option.

If you run your own online business, which a lot of people do, then obviously, you can work as you go!

I also run/ran a small editing and proofreading business. And it still exists, but I don't put much effort in getting the business's name out there. Or attempting to get clients. I mean, I could make money off this while I travel, but editing people's assignments (e.g. PhD submissions) are very time consuming and draining.

House sitting overseas

One of the biggest draws to house sitting overseas is having the chance to travel with free accommodation. Yes, you will still have responsibilities while away, but if you don't mind looking after a home and its pets, this could save you a truckload in holiday expenses.

Similar to starting off in your home city, you can get started with house sitting by signing up to a service that offers stays in your desired location and applying for jobs. TrustedHousesitters is one site that offers housesits around the world, particularly in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada.

Picture:GettyImages

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